Academic Integrity and
Alec Couros, PhD
the Culture of Sharing University of Regina
• Traditional views of and
academic integrity (AI).
• Rise of the culture of
collaboration and remix.
• How the shift informs our
contemporary views of
intellectual property, and
Keywords: Text from top 10 Academic
Google results, visualized using Wordle.
Deﬁnitions from Universities
• “... the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible
manner. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or
tolerate acts of falsiﬁcation, misrepresentation or deception.” (Penn State)
• “... is a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to ﬁve fundamental values:
honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.” (CAI)
• “... means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Professors have to obey
rules of honest scholarship, and so do students.” (Oklahoma U.)
• “... is the cornerstone of University life and scholarly communities.
Professional academics, depend on each other to work with integrity to
continually advance our understanding of the world through the development
and dissemination of knowledge.” (York U.)
“Twenty-nine engineering students
got 0, after professors caught them
cheating on essays about
“Cheating is not only commonplace
but is also becoming increasingly
“Developing a system of codes and
hand signals, pre-recording answers
and storing them in audio recorders”
creates a system where “students
feel that education is less important
than their grades”
“... the high rates don’t necessarily
mean students in those programs
are more likely to cheat. Rather,
their professors may simply be
taking cheating more seriously.”
“Students go to university for a
higher education. They don’t go to
be involved in a culture mistrust, a
culture of guilt.”
“One hundred and forty-six
students used the group to help
each other with homework
“Shouldn’t the teacher be
reprimanded for hindering the
ability of fertile and free-thinking
academic minds to collaborate
and learn and progress (in) the
way in which they best see ﬁt?”
“The online culture is outpacing
the curriculum and education
system. These students are
smart and using the Internet the
way it should be used. This is the
future of education.”
• Students identiﬁed whether or
not they regularly attempted to
cheat. The majority reported
15% that while they did not regularly
cheat, their decision was
swayed by the circumstances.
• Recent studies revealed that the
Internet “provided more
Do Not Cheat
convenience to cheat and
plagiarize. Web sites, e-mails,
Will Always Try chat rooms, digital devices, and
search engines all become tools
May Be Swayed for plagiarism and
cheating.” (Hongyan et. al, 2008)
Survey Results (rounded), Couros, 2000
Why Do Students Plagiarize?
•Poor time management and research skills.
•Lack of interest in the subject or low self-conﬁdence.
•Lack of knowledge or ability to write/research a paper.
•Mistakes made in note-taking/research.
•Others plagiarize and are not caught.
•Laziness or blatant disregard for copyright regulations.
•Over-emphasis of grades vs. learning.
•Lack of knowledge of what constitutes plagiarism or AI.
•Educators show lack of integrity themselves.
•Pressure from family, competition for scholarships/jobs.
•Culturally based attitudes toward ownership of knowledge.
Source: Penn State Libraries.
Paper Mills: Over 250 listed at Kimbel Library.
Traditional Approaches to Academic Integrity
•Develop and nurture students who do not want to cheat.
•Model ethical academic conduct through faculty.
•Eliminate or reduce the opportunities to cheat.
•Reduce the pressure to cheat.
•Catch and discipline those who are caught cheating.
•Develop strong deterrents.
•Use strategies and tools to check for cheating.
Timeline of Traditional Approaches to AI
Formation of the
Act of Cheating
Intention to Cheat
Preventative Police or Detection
Proactive Prevention Techniques
•Educators better understand why students cheat, and
learn various, emerging forms of academic dishonesty.
•Students helped to better understand plagiarism and
importance of citing sources.
•Assignment design: assignments made clear, topics
changed often, citation/source innovation, focus on
research/writing process, require oral reports, annotated
Rise of Openness, Sharing,
Collaboration & Remix
how we view collaboration
cathedral vs. the bazaar
how we view knowledge
and creative works
copyright vs. copyleft
The Hacker Ethic
• Distinguish between the original
hackers and those portrayed in the
• Principles: sharing, community &
collaboration, access, freedom of
information, comp. for better
• “... essential lessons can be learned
about the world from taking things
apart, seeing how they work, and
using this knowledge to create new
and more interesting things.” (Levy,
Opposing Forces Virtual Counterparts
closed vs. open television vs. internet
broadcast vs. conversation newspapers vs. blogging
institution vs. individual telephones vs. skype
hierarchy vs. network snail mail vs. email
centralized vs. decentralized roller rinks vs. social networks
product vs. remix courier vs. 3D copier
planned vs. chaotic
static vs. dynamic
push vs. pull
Adapted from Downes (2004)
Wesch on Numa Numa
• “Numa Numa” is one of the
most viewed videos in history.
• Wesch’s explains the history
of this Internet meme and
brings light to how youth are
synthesizing, and creating
Understanding the Shift
• Students are now connected in
ways that we struggle to
understand, and in some cases,
choose to restrict.
• Lessig, one of the founders of the
Creative Commons, is an
advocate of (re)creating, (re)use
of content, to “say things
• Sharing and collaboration are
necessary forces within a creative
and free culture.
370 student registered 443 digital devices.
14 students brought desktop computers,
93 brought iphones/Touch devices.
Only 5 students reported landline service.
432 of 438 new students on Facebook, College
group had 3225 posts before start of school.
Source: Academic Commons
Similar Values/Processes, Different Spaces/Tools
• Attribution is relevant and necessary, even in a “free” culture.
• How do we connect to learning preferences of students (e.g.,
mobile, personal portals, multimedia)
• What are acceptable
forms of collaboration
• Citation styles have
evolved, but do we
need a revolution to
forms of research?
“Any institutionally-created, operated, or
controlled environment in which participants are
lured in either by mimicking pre-existing open or
naturally formed environment, or by force,
through a system of punishments or rewards.”
~ Jared Stein
Beware the “Creepy
The Importance of Knowledge Filters
• The Internet has created a
knowledge ecology where we
have moved from a few
gatekeepers, to many human
• The tools of social media
simplify the process or reading,
ﬁltering, synthesizing, curating
attributing, and sharing
• Still, difﬁculty lies in forming
knowledge networks based on
trust, while avoiding the echo
“Education ... has produced a vast
population able to read but unable
to distinguish what is worth
reading, an easy prey to
sensations and cheap appeals.”
Understanding Copyright, Copyleft & Openness
• Creative Commons and other
copyleft licenses help give us
access to quality tools, content,
and other resources.
• Openness has the potential to
transform our educational
institutions in terms of access
and quality of resources.
• Perhaps most important to AI,
copyleft/openness gives us
power to choose how we share,
makes us interrogate when to do
so, and provides an explicit
mechanism for attribution.
The current era of intellectual property is
waning. It has been based on two faulty
assumptions made nearly three decades
ago: that since some intellectual property
(IP) is good, more must be better; and that
IP is about controlling knowledge rather
than sharing it. These assumptions are as
inaccurate in biotechnology ... as they are
in other ﬁelds from music to software.
Why Do We Cite/Write? Core to Academic Integrity
• “... creativity is often distributed over multiple processes, times,
places, and people...social creativity does not ‘reside’ in any single
cognitive or personality process.” (Harrington, 1990)
• “... in the process of
or adding to an original
act’s potential value, a
social system enters
into and becomes an
integral part of the
Photo and Video Credits (in order of appearance)
• http://tinyurl.com/425oge Videos:
• http://tinyurl.com/3j92hf - Wesch on Youtube
• http://tinyurl.com/452x9 - Lessig TED Talk
• http://tinyurl.com/65q3e - Udell Heavy Metal Umlaut
• http://tinyurl.com/6nsgx8 - Friedman on the Pencil
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